I Will Follow

On any typical Friday night one of your friends will call and ask if you want to see a movie. You’ll browse through what’s out and end up seeing whatever looks best. Unfortunately,  I Will Follow won’t likely be one of those choices because it was only released in one Los Angeles theater. Of course this trend is a common one amongst independent films but in this particular instance, its a bit of a tragedy. The fact that more people won’t get to experience I Will Followis almost as haunting as the subject matter. And the fact that such a sincere movie exists is simply miraculous. Ava DuVernay’s I Will Follow is a winning film that reminds the masses that the art of good storytelling in black Hollywood is alive and well.

I Will Follow stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield as Maye, a thriving Hollywood make-up artist who moves in with her aunt Amanda (Beverly Todd) when she is diagnosed with cancer. Following Amanda’s death Maye must disassemble her beloved aunt’s home and face the memories and relationships that haunt her.

This isn’t your typical movie experience where you’re taken on an up and down journey with a clear beginning middle and end. Instead, we’re invited into Maye’s life for 24 hours. Within that time we discover more and more about who she is through the visitors who come to not only help her move, but help her move on. We’ve heard I Will Followbe described as a character study and its a description we strongly agree with. Despite its unconventional storytelling you’ll leave the theater with a clear understanding of each character’s place in Maye’s world. From apprehensive ex boyfriend Troy (Omari Hardwick) to Christine (Phalana Tiller), a perfect stranger- each puzzle piece fits and you’ll quickly realize that this is not  just another “black film”.

Lets talk about the term “black film” for a moment. Some hate it while others use it to describe a subcategory of film that services an audience with very different needs. If you ask any group of black people what they consider quality black cinema, you’ll likely find a solid division. On one side you’ll have those who admire Tyler Perry and his laundry list of films, plays and television shows. Then there are others who consider him a stain on the black entertainment community and neither support or emotionally connect with his work. For the latter, I Will Follow will be a long awaited breath of fresh air. The characters seem like people we know and the realistic emotional force behind the story is what defines them. When was the last time you said that about a Tyler Perry film?

Truth be told, it seems that most Hollywood black films are made with the distinct purpose of entertaining everyone except African American audiences. Almost as if they’re catered to people who enjoy laughing at us instead of with us. These kinds of bafoon comedies and over dramatic dramas have caused a deep longing for films like DuVernay’s that don’t diminish black people but dissect them. I Will Follow is an 88 minute dissection of a woman’s heart and mind during a time of mourning. Its also a great example of progressive black film making that stands on its own and breaths life into the kinds stories that often go unheard. Those of authentic black experiences.

Overall, I Will Follow is a heartfelt, ethereal film that you absolutely must see. It single handedly restored our faith in modern black cinema and reassured us that someone in the industry hears our cry for something more, something genuinely insightful and real. Ava DuVernay’s film was powerful because it was subtle and it moved us with its natural authenticity. What I Will Follow does with perfection is tell an honest story without a single negative or unrealistic distraction typical of many of today’s black films. These days, its rare that we get the opportunity to see a reflection of ourselves on the big screen. With I Will Follow, we got to see exactly that. We applaud Ava, her team and her cast for taking a big step in the right direction and we eagerly look forward to her next creative endeavour. God’s speed!

The Chocolate Review gives I Will Follow 4 out of 5 stars for the following reasons:

  • For accurately portraying African American people and emotions
  • Telling an honest story
  • Excellent cast
  • Slow but effective
  • For multiple close ups of Omari Hardwick  ; )

MORE THEATERS ADDED!! To see if I WILL FOLLOW is playing in your area CLICK HERE!

The Chocolate Review with I Will Follow’s Writer/Director Ava DuVernay


5 Comments for “I Will Follow”

  1. YES, sisters! A wonderful, wonderful film.

  2. MissPiggy

    I was wondering about this one. Definitely will make an effort to see this.

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